In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, where the author goes deeply into how to rest in God, he gives us three tools at the end of the discourse. To enter into the rest is the opposite of legalism which is works based.
When we enter into the rest, according to Hebrews 4:10, we cease from our own works. In place of our own works, we start walking in the works that God has prepared for us beforehand.1 The Spirit initiates the works, He guides us as to how and when to do them and He finishes them. It is the Spirit at work in us.
Hebrews 4:11 affirms that not to enter into the rest is “disobedience”. But to get to the place where we relax and let the river of God carry us, we need help. That is why the Scriptures not only warn us about the severe consequences2 of not entering into the divine rest, it also give us the three tools3 that have been prepared to help us to enter in and live in His rest.
The first tool is the Word.4 The Word of God is a foundational help for our Christian life. It is solid and never changing.5 When everything around us is relative and circumstantial, the Word of God is a rock under our feet.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that it is powerful and cuts better than any two-edged sword. It gets right down to the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow and it discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart.
According to that text in Hebrews, one job of the Word is to expose our heart so we can see it just as it is. This is very important. My heart, according to Jeremiah 17:9 is deceitful above all things, and, to top it all off, desperately wicked. My heart deceives me constantly.
One of the main tools that God uses to let me see what is in my heart is the Word. The Word penetrates so deep it differentiates the soul and the spirit in me and it discerns the (deceitful) thoughts and intents of my heart.
I think all of us have gone through the following: we believe that we are doing God’s will, but it turns out to be a dead work!6 A dead work that was not initiated by the Spirit, that the Spirit is not directing and that the Spirit is not going to finish for me. Whatever I start is up to me to finish, God is not going to do it. But if the Spirit starts it, He will guide it and He will finish it through me.
So the Word penetrates my life, separates my soul — my mind, will and emotions — from my spirit or the part of me that communes with God.4 All of a sudden I realize that my dead work was fruit of my soul and not something that God planted in my spirit. Everything is naked and exposed.4 I have been found out by the Word.
In that moment, what I need to do is to repent.6 I need to get rid of the dead works that rob me of my time and my energy. The Word penetrates my heart, I am no longer deceived but rather naked and exposed.4
And now I can see that the dead work that I initiated myself, is taking the place of another work, an incredible work that God prepared beforehand for me to walk in.1
In the next chapter we will talk about the Great High Priest7 and how He helps us to escape a works-based Christianity and enter into the rest that God gives us when His Spirit guides.
1- Ephesians 2:10 2- Hebrews 3:8-13; 4:1, 11 3- Hebrews 4:11-16 4- Hebrews 4:12,13 5- Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17; 1 Peter 1:25 6- Hebrews 6:1 7- Hebrews 4:15